Posts Tagged chocolate

Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food!

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food

Living Gluten and Dairy-Free French Gourmet Food

     “Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food” is the second cookbook by Austin Chef Alain Braux. Alain has impressive credentials as a traditionally trained French chef but, even more interesting, is a nutritherapist – a term used in Europe for nutritionists who use only food as a healing medium, as opposed to conventional nutritionists, who usually work with supplements, homeopathy and herbal medicine.

    Since writing his first book, “How to Lower your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food“, Alain recently discovered that he was gluten intolerant and has gone on to compile his knowledge into a new book for those of us who love good food, more especially traditional French food.

    Alain’s comment `gluten-free junk food is still junk food’ is such an astute observation and one that resonates deeply with Rita and me. He believes we should eat thoughtfully, be aware, and indulge carefully on special occasions.

Features found in this book aside from the wonderful recipes:
1) Narratives from people about their journey of GFCF discovery – one of these stories might be your `aha!’ trigger
2) Sympathy for the many reasons you may be attempting to self medicate and suggestions on how to find the right doctor
3) Why keeping a food journal is so very important (there may be additional sensitivities)
4) Setting yourself up for gluten-free and casein-free success
5) A comprehensive list of resources for Celiac Disease and Autism including books, magazines, organizations, and online support
6) Those mysterious food additives that could indicate `hidden’ gluten – pages of them
7) `Safe’ and `not safe’; in medication, vitamins, toiletries, household cleaners

    Now about those recipes: this book contains a carefully chosen distillation of Alain’s gluten-free baking repertoire that focus on breads, breakfast, tea time treats, and cookies. The dairy-free options are carefully noted as not everyone with the gluten issues has problems with the dairy protein.

    The recipe that initially grabbed our attention was Brownies à la Farine de Coco or Coconut Flour Brownies (chocolate, go figure). We baked them for a benefit to raise money for a local Georgetown organization known as The Caring Place where I volunteer working in the food pantry. The benefit event was an evening of music with two tribute artists plus desserts contributed by a local bakery and homemade desserts created by The Caring Place volunteers.

The Caring Place Benefit Event

The Caring Place Benefit Event

    I make good tasting food but my presentation skills are not first rate – just never had that gene. Turning a basic pan of brownies into something that looked appealing next to professionally prepared items was worrisome. There were quite a few crumbs remaining in the baking pan (which were not wasted – Don had them as mix-ins for a scoop of ice cream). So each brownie was placed on a cupcake paper for background and I added about one-half teaspoon of melted raspberry jam as a glaze to anchor any more stray crumbs. The chocolate-raspberry fragrance was nearly intoxicating as Rita and I drove them to the venue.

Raspberry Glazed Coconut Flour Brownies

Raspberry Glazed Coconut Flour Brownies

    Rita and I enjoyed listening to the two entertainers warming up and checking out the stage facilities while we helped with setting up the service tables. But we had been running all day so once it appeared that all was in order we headed back home to plot out our Thanksgiving meal.

Rita Setting Up Coconut Flour Brownies

Rita Setting Up Coconut Flour Brownies

    Our family Thanksgiving meal is on Friday this year due to travel considerations. It is working out so well that Friday may become our designated family gathering day. Rita and I are baking Alain’s Cookies au Chocolat et Pecans – Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies for one of our desserts at this meal.

    Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are with whatever and however you are celebrating!

Gretchen (Mom) and Rita


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Dark Chocolate No-Guilt Fudge

    The recipe for Chocolatey Fudge from Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs was intimidating. It sounded easy and yes, so yummy, but could it really be that easy? 

    I read and re-read the recipe and thought about my blender. Sometimes my wimpy old blender and I don’t get along but I am reluctant to learn a new machine along with a new recipe. Rita has a food processor stored here in my cupboard and next time I will definitely use it. You need a machine with ‘muscle’ for this recipe. The blender whined and groaned and started sending out smoke signals before we called truce. So this first batch has little bits of beans that are visible although not enough to stop any of my dedicated testers. And if you truly love deep, dark chocolate this will give you a chocolate fix without the sugar hangover. It looks like fudge, it tastes like fudge, and it IS fudge.

   You need to read Ricki’s version before you decide which way you would rather make it. She crumbles the unsweetened chocolate and adds it at the end. This version has it all melted in and fudgy smooth all the way through – almost the same ingredients but a different technique.

This Fudge Is Really Good!

This Fudge Is Really Good!

1 ounce (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut oil, soft at room temperature

1-3/4 cups (420 ml) cooked, drained and rinsed black beans (canned beans work best)
1/4 cup (60 ml) natural smooth almond butter, room temperature or slightly warmer
1/2 cup (60 g) cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup, agave nectar or vegetable glycerin
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to taste
pinch fine sea salt

    Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.

    Place chocolate in a small microwavable bowl and spoon the coconut oil over it. Heat this in the microwave for one minute. Test the chocolate with a thin knife. The coconut oil should be hot and the chocolate just soft and melted but still holding its shape. This might take several iterations of heating and testing. Do – not – overheat!

    Add all of the remaining ingredients to the processor and pour the coconut oil/chocolate mixture on top and blend until very smooth. Use a spatula to help push down and incorporate all of the ingredients if necessary. The mixture will be thick. If the almond butter is the least bit chilly the coconut oil and chocolate can suddenly harden and seize.

    Transfer fudge mixture to the loaf pan and press down to compress it and push out any air bubbles. I sprinkled a packet of Truvia over the top to give it a ‘sugary’ finish but the loaf just dissolved the crystals and it disappeared overnight.

    Allow the fudge to set up in the refrigerator for an hour, then cover the top with more plastic and refrigerate until very firm, 2 hours or up to overnight. Slice into squares. Because it contains no sugar to act as a preservative it needs to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Date Cake – Revisited

    This is my second attempt to bake Ricki’s date cake recipe from her Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  blog in a gluten-free version. Let me say this in my defense: those warnings on antihistamine packages do not go far enough when they say not to operate machinery while on the medication. Neither should you attempt sewing, knitting, or baking of new recipes. It will take several days to undo the damage. However, Mrs. K’s Date Cake is now a fabulous success!
    Some of where I went wrong previously include grabbing the chia seed instead of the flax seed, using quinoa flour that I had not tried before, blenderizing the date mixture in a pathetic attempt to disguise the dates so that possibly someone else in the house would sample the cake, and finally, forgetting lessons learned about the differences in Dutch and regular cocoa powder. Is it any wonder the cake consistency was somewhere between brownie and fudge?
    Ricki warned about allowing the cake to cool before cutting. For this one it should be cold and mellowed in the pan for an hour or so. I had a piece before dinner while it was barely warm and another after dinner. (It is not unusual for me to do dessert before dinner but usually not before and after!) The second time the flavor seemed much richer. This is a phenomenon that I’ve encountered before with gluten-free baked goods and one that I do not understand. Nevertheless, here is the successful version. (Notice the toasty golden coconut!)

DD&D Date Cake Success!

DD&D Date Cake Success!

heaping 1/2 cup finely chopped dried (unsweetened) dates
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup Sucanat
2 Tbsp. finely ground flax seeds
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
(This is the gluten-free substitution for the spelt flour)
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
1/3 cup potato flour (NOT starch)
2 Tbsp. coconut flour
1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum
1 heaping Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt

2 Tbsp. Sucanat
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dairy-free dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350* F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan, or line with parchment paper.

Place the dates in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over them; stir briefly. Add the Sucanat, flax seed, milk, oil, and vanilla, and whisk to blend. Allow to sit until room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour mixture, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir to blend. Turn into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Sprinkle the topping ingredients over the cake: first, sprinkle the Sucanat evenly over the surface of the batter. Cover with a sprinkling of the coconut, and end with the chocolate chips. (The coconut gets all golden and toasty during baking – ummm)

Bake for 35-40 minutes, turning the pan once about halfway through to ensure even baking, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan before cutting. (Makes 9 large or 16 snack-sized pieces.) May be frozen.


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Chocolate Pudding Fantasy

     My food philosophy is simply that no matter who you are or what your constraints you should be able to enjoy what you eat. Over the years that I have been modifying recipes for people there was never a challenge such as the one presented to me by Rita. She described her ‘thou-shalt-nots’ for her Candida diet and then requested that I concoct for her a milk chocolate pudding. You can actually make a simple gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free pudding using a common brand of pudding mix available at nearly any grocery store. It doesn’t do well with soy or almond milks but is quite yummy with canned coconut milk, also easily available.
    But not so easy, it also had to be free of chemical sweeteners and Rita’s preference was a brand named Lakanto. Because Lakanto is currently VERY pricey the early experiments were done with regular sugar while trying to duplicate the taste of brand-name chocolate pudding. There were experiments and research on cocoa (plain, Dutch process) and chocolate (dark, darker, and even darker, domestic, imported) before moving on to milks and thickeners.
    Thickeners: Coconut milk already contains fat (although in a healthy way) so eggs were out, cornstarch, rice and tapioca each had their own issues. On a Romanian recipe site that I have since lost there were recipes for milk puddings made with gelatin and this became the thickener.
    Pity the poor husband helping me through all of the taste-testing. Finally the result was good enough to warrant switching to the Lakanto and besides, Rita was due in town.
    If it’s not one thing it’s another as the saying goes. At that point we discovered that one of the components of Lakanto tends to crystallize out in the presence of fat. This called for melting, chilling, and beating several times as the mixture chilled and set similar to the way you make ice cream in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. But finally, we had pudding.
Chocolate Pudding Fantasy
Adapted for a Candida diet from Jeleu de Ciocolata

2 tablespoons water
4 oz. milk (from almond milk below)
3 envelopes gelatin (enough to gel two pints of liquid + 1 extra)

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons GF vanilla
2 cups almond milk – take out 4 oz. for above
2 cups coconut milk
4 oz. (1/2 cup) Lakanto sweetener
oil (for a molded pudding)

    Soften the gelatin granules in the water in a 2 quart saucepan. Add the 4 ounces of almond milk and place the pot over low heat. Slowly apply more heat while stirring until the gelatin begins to dissolve. Then add the chocolate. 

    When the chocolate has melted you should add the Lakanto to the pot and mix well. Continue to stir while heating. Add the remainder of the 2 cups of almond milk and then the coconut milk. Increase the heat and stir until the mixture is hot and steaming slightly. Remove from the heat. Cool in the pan and then refrigerate until it begins to set up. The Lakanto has a tendency to crystallize around the edges so stir every now and then to prevent this from happening. The chilled mixture may be whipped with electric beaters if you prefer a lighter texture.

    Set up eight small dessert dishes or 1 large bowl, fill with the pudding mixture and refrigerate until set.


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